She never saw it coming.
It had been a typical weekday afternoon. She went to the bank, withdrew cash for paying the monthly bills, went to the KFC to get some chicken for dinner, then headed to the supermarket to buy a few groceries. She took a taxi home. She got out of the car, leaving her handbag on the front passenger seat while she unlocked the gate to the house.
The taxi driver was standing beside the open trunk, removing the grocery bags. Then it happened...
Two men on a motorcycle had been closely following her movements ever since she left the bank. Now one of them strode up to the car. The taxi driver froze when he saw the long knife at the man's side, glistening in the sun. As he walked past him, the driver heard the man growl something that sounded like: "somebody getting killed today."
She turned around just in time to see the dark figure rummaging through the items on the seat â first, he lifted the bag with the carton of eggs. Then, in response to her quizzical look, he said: "I know what I'm looking for." Before she realised what was happening, he'd grabbed the handbag, jumped on the back of the waiting bike and was gone. It was over in seconds.
When she telephoned me afterwards she said she'd never been robbed before. The men obviously saw an easy target: an elderly retiree doing her errands, unaware of their evil intention. She felt violated: you think of your home as a safe place. It's the one place where you have an expectation of being protected. She told me that what bothered her most was that the men had her health, bus and retail cards with her name and address. They knew her identity.
The Good things in the Bad
The incident had me thinking about the goodness of God even in tough situations. I started to reflect on all the good things about the bad incident: the things that prevented the outcome from being worse.
It was good she didn't see the robber coming and that the bag was on the car seat and not on her shoulder. Had it been on her shoulder she would have struggled, resisting him, probably leading to a violent encounter, which would certainly have led to her injury or death.
It was good that the taxi man froze and didn't yell a warning that would have triggered her instinctive "fight" response. Good that she'd already taken her keys out of the bag, so that afterwards she could get into the house without the aid of a locksmith and without having to change the locks.
Good that she had taken her prescription eyeglasses out of her handbag the night before, so there was no need to get new ones. Good that all her cards were replaceable. Good that although I was thousands of miles away, I was able to send some cash to her through a friend who was visiting the island at that time. I also was able to send two replacement handbags, two purses, a wallet, a small umbrella and a few other household items.
This is how the grace of God is. Bad things can happen to Christians, as they do to anyone else. As Christians, we can lose physical things. We face theft of our assets and death. But we know two things.
We know that God is able to replace whatever we lose on earth...plus more. That's because ultimately every good gift we receive comes from God (James Chapter 1 verse 17). This is a principle that Job, who lost everything- his children and property, understood. Job remained faithful even in the trial and God ultimately replaced everything and blessed him even more than before (Job Chapter 42 verses 10 to 17). That doesn't mean that God restores physical losses all the time or that even when God restores them, there isn't still an emotional scar, pain or loss, such as the loss of the sense of security. But one day, there will be no more tears (Revelation Chapter 21 verse 4).
More importantly, there are things that are more precious that we can never lose: our relationship with God; His Love for us (Romans Chapter 8 verses 38 to 39); God' presence with us as the Holy Spirit ("the treasure inside clay jars": 2 Corinthians Chapter 4 verses 7 to 9); and our eternal home with him (John Chapter 14 verse 2). This is why God says in Matthew Chapter 6 verses 19 to 20:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,where moths and vermin destroy,and where thieves break in and steal.But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."
Money comes and money goes. Money can be lost. Money can be replaced. The things we get from God are eternal. God is our safety. He knows us. He is our Identity. He give us His peace. As it says in Psalm 91:
"Whoever dwells in the shelterof the Most High will rest in the shadowof the Almighty. I will say of theLord, 'He is my refugeand my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.' Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge..."
Yes. God is the ultimate giver. But the best thing He gives us daily is the opportunity to know and love Him.
Sharma considers herself a child of the Caribbean, having visited, studied, worked and lived in several Caribbean islands. But when she arrived in New Zealand, she discovered that she is also a kiwi at heart. She holds a PhD in Law from the Victoria University of Wellington.
Sharma Taylor's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sharma-taylor.html